Philadelphia Eagles' Head-Coaching Search Should Start Today

Brad Gagnon NFL National ColumnistNovember 12, 2012

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No NFL team has been more aggressive and proactive the last two offseasons than the Philadelphia Eagles. With a 3-6 record, a 2.5-game deficit in the NFC East and a five-game losing streak under their belt, it's time for the Eagles to accept that their 2012 season is over and to get an early start on their attempt to correct the problems that have plagued this team for the last season and a half. 

Owner Jeffrey Lurie won't do it, but considering that it's already a foregone conclusion, he'd be better off parting ways with head coach Andy Reid right now, giving the franchise a chance to take a seven-week breather and to focus on building the 2013 coaching staff and roster without having to constantly be reminded of this failed era.

Not only would that approach be more fair to Reid, but it would also make the impending transition easier. So long as Reid's still led to believe he has a chance to return, courting replacement candidates—privately or otherwise—will be a much more difficult task. 

By making it known right here and now that they're in the market for a new head coach, the Eagles can stop delaying the inevitable. The team might respond positively with Todd Bowles or Marty Mornhinweg taking over on an interim basis, and such a change would alert the 53 men on the roster that Lurie has officially run out of patience.

Lurie's holding back for noble reasons. He clearly has a lot of loyalty to and respect for Reid and doesn't want to make a major change in-season. But is he really doing anyone any favors by delaying what should at this point be inevitable? 

It's also possible the never-give-up-until-your-last-breath mentality of sports is a factor here. But considering how poorly this team is playing and how small its chances are, it would be unfortunate if the Eagles postponed the next phase by nearly two months based on the potential for a miraculous turnaround. 

Like I said, though, Lurie won't fire Reid today or tomorrow. That won't happen until after the season ends on Dec. 30. And that's unfortunate, because Reid will coach to save his job rather than to assess talent for 2013. 

If I'm thinking about 2013 and beyond and trying to decide who'll be on this roster and this coaching staff, I'm giving Nick Foles a few starts between now and the end of 2012. But Reid continues to insist that, if healthy, Michael Vick is the starter. 

The next seven weeks could give the Eagles a chance to hold auditions against real NFL competition in a regular season context, which is rare. Seeing Foles shine in the preseason was great, but this would be a much better test. 

They can also take this time to draw conclusions regarding veterans like Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Kurt Coleman (both of whom have expiring contracts) and to see if younger question marks like Dennis Kelly, Danny Watkins, Curtis Marsh and Brandon Boykin deserve larger, smaller or nonexistent roles going forward. 

That'll be tougher to do with Reid in charge, especially if Vick gets cleared this week and starts the rest of the year. 

But while Reid is very likely to remain in his role for the next seven weeks, it'd still be prudent for Lurie and his confidants to begin having conversations with the men they've identified as coaching candidates for 2013. 

If this team wants to lure someone like Sean Payton, Jon Gruden, Mike Holmgren, Brian Billick or Bill Cowher to town, it'd be in the Eagles' best interest to become the first franchise to reach out to those big names and make it clear that they're interested. 

Like, right now.